Flyers’ goaltender Carter Hart among NHL players charged with sexual assault in a 2018 case in Canada, their lawyers say

Lawyers representing Hart, McLeod and Dube say each player has been charged by police in London, Ontario.

Philadelphia Flyers' goaltender Carter Hart in action during an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Philadelphia.

File photo: Philadelphia Flyers' goaltender Carter Hart in action during an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton, File)

Content warning: This story includes topics of sexual abuse.

NHL players Carter Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michael McLeod of the New Jersey Devils and Dillon Dube of the Calgary Flames have been charged with sexual assault in connection with an investigation into an alleged sexual assault by several members of Canada’s 2018 world junior team.

Attorneys representing Hart, McLeod and Dube said Tuesday that each player has been charged with sexual assault by police in London, Ontario. They denied any wrongdoing on behalf of their clients.

Hart’s lawyers, Megan Savard and Riaz Sayani, said their client is facing one count of sexual assault, adding, “He is innocent and will provide a full response to this false accusation in the proper forum, a court of law.”

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Legal teams representing McLeod and Dube said they would be pleading not guilty.

“(We) will vigorously defend the case,” McLeod’s, attorneys David Humphrey and Seth Weinstein, said in a statement. “We ask that the public respect Mr. McLeod’s privacy, and his family’s privacy. Because the matter is now before the court, we will not comment further at this time.”

Dube’s lawyers, Louis Strezos and Kayleigh Davidson said he “maintains his innocence (and) will defend the allegations in court.”

Messages sent to the Flyers, Devils and Flames seeking comment were not immediately returned.

The latest developments come two days after former NHL player Alex Formenton surrendered to police to face charges. Attorney Daniel Brown said Formenton is innocent “and asks that people not rush to judgment without hearing all of the evidence.”

Five players from Canada’s 2018 world junior team — Hart, McLeod, Dube, Formenton, Hart and Cal Foote of the Devils — have taken leaves from their current clubs. Agents for all five players have not spoken publicly since.

London Police have scheduled a news conference for Monday to address the situation. A spokesperson for police told The Associated Press by email no updates on the investigation will be provided before the news conference.

London police launched their investigation in 2022 after it was disclosed that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit with a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by eight members of that gold medal-winning team at a gala. London is approximately halfway between Toronto and Detroit.

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The NHL opened its own investigation in 2022 and has pledged to make those findings public. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly last week said the league would issue a statement if and when it is appropriate.

The Flyers said Hart requested and was granted a leave of absence for personal reasons. General manager Daniel Briere declined to provide details when asked follow-up questions related to the 25-year-old No. 1 goaltender’s departure.

“We will respond appropriately when the outcomes of the investigations are made public,” Briere said.

The Devils did not give a reason when announcing McLeod and Foote were granted indefinite leaves of absence. McLeod, who turns 26 on Saturday, is in the middle of his fourth full season with the team.

The Flames said Dube was on indefinite leave to tend to his mental health. The 25-year-old has played in the NHL with Calgary since 2018.

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